Schmerzing Cuirassiers

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Origin and History

This regiment was created on May 5 1701 from five companies of the Caprara regiment and from five new compamies for field-marshal Philipp landgrave of Hessen-Darmstadt. The Caprara regiment was one of the most renown of the Austrian army. It had fought with great distinction at Lützen in 1632.

In 1702, the new regiment took part to the siege of Landau. It then served on the Rhine during the campaigns of 1702 and 1703. In 1704, it was transferred to Hungary to fight the insurrection. In 1710, it took part to the siege of Neuhäusel.

In 1716, the regiment took part to the campaign against the Turks . It was at the battle of Peterwardein and at the siege of Temesvar. In 1717, during the siege of Belgrad it was deployed beyond the Sava River. On July 17 1717, it distinguished itself when the Janissaries attacked the unfinished camp of prince Eugen, repulsing their assault. After this battle, lieutenant-colonel Miglio was promoted colonel of the regiment for his courageous behaviour. On August 10, of the same year, the regiment suffered heavy losses: 6 officers were killed and six wounded.

In 1718 and 1719, the regiment served in Sicily.

In 1721, the regiment received one company from the disbanded Veterani Dragoon Regiment.

During the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment served in Italy in 1734 where it took part to the battle of Parma on June 29. The carabinier company of the regiment, along with the carabiniers of the Mercy regiment and the horse grenadiers of the Althaun dragoons launched the first attack of this bloody battle. The regiment soon received reinforcements from Germany and by July 23, in the camp of Guingentole, it counted 1,115 men despite the heavy losses that it had suffered in the previous battle. It then took part to the battle of Guastalla. By April 30 1735, the regiment had melted down to only 460 horses, due to continual fighting and sickness. After the war, the regiment was stationed in Lombardy.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment first fought at Camposanto in 1743. It lost 20 killed, 66 wounded and 53 missing. In 1744, the regiment now counting only 516 horses took part to the enterprise against Naples. In 1746, it was at the engagement of Codogno. At the battle of Piacenza, it was deployed on the right wing along with Portugal Cuirassiers and Savoyen dragoons under baron Linden. They conducted a very successful attack against the Spanish infantry, capturing several flags and making a lot of prisoners. The regiment also fought at Rottofreno and took part to the enterprise against Provence. After the war, the regiment was stationed in Hungary.

The regiment counted 6 squadrons and a company of carabiniers. For battles, the latter was usually converged with other similar companies to form an elite unit.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment inhaber was:

  • since 1745: Friedrich Hannibal baron von Schmerzing
  • from 1762 to 1779: Joseph count d'Ayasassa

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • since 1752: Carl count Martigny
  • 1757: Anton count Barbiano de Belgiojoso
  • 1759 to 1767: Sigmund baron Gabelkoven

Service during the War

At the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, in 1756, the regiment was stationed in the Honter Komitat in Slovakia and counted 815 men and 800 horses. On October 1, lieutenant-colonel Churfeld served outstandingly as volunteer in the role of adjutant-general at the battle of Lobositz.

On June 18 1757, the regiment fought under the command of field-marshal Daun at the battle of Kolin where it was deployed in the second line of the cavalry right wing in O'Donell Division. Both its colonel, count Belgiojoso, and its lieutenant-colonel, baron Sigmund Gabelkoven, were wounded during this bloody but victorious battle. On this day, the Rittmeister of the carabiniers of the regiment, Franz Philipp baron Rüdt von Callenberg, on receiving adjutant-general Schulz's report that the Prussian infantry was forming on the hill, immediately attacked them without being ordered to do so. His company suffered very heavy losses (60 horses), pushed back the Prussian infantry but failed to it. Rüdt and his lieutenant-colonel now fought dismounted. The Prussian advanced against the remaining carabiniers. Rüdt placed himself at the head of a group of dismounted carabiniers and ordered the mounted ones to renew their attack. Meanwhile he also attacked with his dismounted carabiniers. The attack was so successful that he captured three officers, two guns and several toopers. On November 22, at the battle of Breslau, the regiment was deployed in count Ludwig Starhemberg's brigade, in the second line of the cavalry left wing under count Stampach, supporting the infantry of the left wing. On December 5, the regiment also took part to the disastrous battle of Leuthen where it was deployed in Starhemberg's brigade in the second line of the cavalry left wing under general Serbelloni.

By August 2 1758, the regiment was serving in the first line of the main Austrian army under the command of Daun near Jaromirs. Daun was following up the Prussian army retiring through Bohemia after the failure of the Prussian invasion of Moravia. On October 14, the regiment took part to the battle of Hochkirch where it was deployed in Loudon's corps, to the southwest of Hochkirch.

By mid-August 1759, during the Austro-Imperial campaign in Saxony, the regiment was attached to Hadik's corps. On September 21, it took part in the combat of Korbitz (aka first combat of Meissen) where it was deployed on the left wing of Hadik's corps under major-general Schallenberg. Rittmeister baron Rüdt, as he was sent to support the left wing with a few companies of carabiniers, noticed that a company of Prussian grenadiers had penetrated the Austrian flank. Rüdt immediately moved his company over a ditch, charged the Prussians and repulsed them. During the fight Rüdt received no less than ten bayonet wounds. He remained lying on the battlefield and was finally captured. Two years later, this brave officer received the cross of the Maria-Theresa Order for his distinguished services at Kolin and Korbitz. In this engagement at Korbitz, the regiment suffered the following losses: 4 men killed, colonel baron Gabelkoven, major Weissmann, rittmeisters baron Rüdt, Michna and Kesche, lieutenant-colonel Hortinger and 83 troopers wounded, rittmeister baron Schmerzing and 49 men missing. In the order of battle of October 5 1759, four squadrons of the regiment along with its carabinier company were assigned to baron Gemmingen's Corps under general Gourcy. Another of its squadron was assigned to major-general Brentano's force. On October 29, while retreating after the action of Pretsch, the regiment was attacked by general Platen near Sickwitz and forced to withdraw in front of superior forces. On November 20, the regiment took part in the battle of Maxen where 3 of its squadrons were deployed in the first cavalry column of Sincère's corps under the command of lieutenant-general count Schallenberg while 2 other squadrons were attached to Brentano's corps initially posted at Röhrsdorf, 5 km north of Maxen. Its carabinier coy, for its part, was deployed in the vanguard of Sincère's corps under the command of major-general baron Sisckowitz.

In 1760, the regiment was with Loudon's corps. It fought at the battle of Landshut on June 23 where it did not loose a single man. On August 15, at Liegnitz, it courageously charged the Prussian infantry and captured five flags. During this battle, it had to deplore 4 men killed, Rittmeister Rott, lieutenant-colonel Globisen, lieutenant Conty and 10 men wounded, and 5 men missing.

For the campaigns of 1761 and 1762, the regiment alternated between the Saxon and Silesian theatres of operation. In 1762, it took part to the action of Peilau on the Fischerberg in Silesia. Colonel baron Sigmund Gabelkoven distinguished himself particularly in this encounter, being wounded twice and having two horses killed under him. He bandaged his wounds, mounted his third horse and remained on the field until he was sure that his men were victorious.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1762 - Source: Richard Couture and Ibrahim90 from an illustration of the Albertina Handschrift
Uniform Details
as per the Albertina Handschrift of 1762

completed with other sources when necessary
Headgear
Trooper black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade fastened with a small brass button
Carabinier black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade fastened with a small brass button
Neckstock black
Coat white with 12 brass buttons on both sides
Collar none
Shoulder strap red fastened with a brass button
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 brass buttons
Cuffs red with 3 brass buttons
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat white with two rows of 12 (according to Donath) brass buttons, and with 2 horizontal pockets each with 3 brass buttons
Breeches red
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white (according to an illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762)
Waistbelt none
Cartridge Box n/a
Scabbard black with brass decorations
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth red laced with a white braid bordered brick red and decorated with a brick red pattern (according to an illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762)
Sabretache red laced with a white braid bordered brick red and decorated with a brick red pattern (according to an illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762)
Blanket roll white laced red (according to an illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762)


Troopers were armed with a black breastplate (worn over the coat), a pallasch (sword) and a pair of pistols. Carabiniers also had a carbine and carried a sabre instead of a sword.

Other interpretations

The Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762 shows a golden lace on the tricorne and a red neckstock.

Raspe shows 16 brass buttons (instead of 12) on each side of the coat. He also illustrates a white waistbelt.

Officers

The officers (according to the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762) wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:

  • tricorne laced gold with a green and white cockade
  • blue saddlecloth and sabretache both laced in red and fringed in yellow

Musicians

no information found

Colours

Leib Standard: no information found

Regimental Standard: sky blue

  • Obverse: with a double eagle surmounted by a crown, red/white/red breast shield, the Golden Fleece in a frame.
  • Reverse: six columns on a golden hillock surmounted by a gold crown, itself surmounted by a white scroll bearing the motto “Qui ecitine cera” in black.

References

This article incorporates texts from the following book which is now in the public domain:

  • Thürheim, Andreas; Die Reiter-Regiment der k. k. österreichischen Armee, vol. 1 - Die Cürassiere und Dragoner, F.B. Geitler, Wien: 1862, pp. 146-175

Other sources:

Funcken, Liliane and Fred , Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Grosser Generalstab, Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Hiller, Berlin, 1830-1913

Knötel, Richard: Uniformkunde. Lose Blätter zur Geschichte der Entwicklung der militärischen Tracht, 18 Bde., Rathenow 1890-1919

Kornauth, Friedrich, Das Heer Maria Theresias: Faksimile-Ausgabe der Albertina-Handschrift, "Dessins des Uniformes des Troupes I.I. et R.R. de l'année 1762", Wien: 1973

Raspe, Accurate Vorstellung der sämtlichen Kayserlich Koeniglichen Armeen zur eigentlichen Kentnis der Uniform von jedem Regimente. Nebst beygefügter Geschichte, worinne von der Stiftung, denen Chefs, der Staercke, und den wichtigsten Thaten jedes Regiments Nachricht gegeben wird., Nürnberg: 1762

Schirmer, Friedrich, Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, hrsg. von der KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, überarb. u. aktual. Neuauflage 1989

Skala H., Österreichische Militärgeschichte

Thümmler, L.-H., Die Österreichiches Armee im Siebenjährigen Krieg: Die Bautzener Bilderhandschrift aus dem Jahre 1762, Berlin 1993

Zahn, Michael, Oesterreichische Kürassier und Dragoner Standarten in Siebenjährigen Krieges, Zusammenstellung, 1988